The Single Most Important (and Easiest) Feature You Need to Set Up for 2020!

While many of our clients are in the heat of their busy season due to the approaching holidays, here’s two reminders:

  1. Remember to take time for yourself and just breathe!
  2. Think ahead to what YOU want to accomplish in 2020.

Got those creative juices flowing? Great! Now it’s time for me to talk about the single most important (and easiest) feature you need to set up for 2020!

Ready?

In our 2019 release, we introduced a new feature called Net Promoter Scores. It’s one of the easiest features to set up and will provide some of the most critical information you need for your business to succeed.

First, what are Net Promoter Scores and why are they important?

Ever received a 1-10 scoring scale from a business you visited online? “How likely are you to recommend our service to a friend or colleague?”

The number you select during this survey contributes to something called a Net Promoter Score. Net Promoter scores are the latest “Hot Topic” in the business world. They’re listed by experts as “the single most important question you can ask clients” The answer to this question shows a business whether you’re a Detractor, Passive, or a Promoter.

I’m not going to go deep into the details of what all that information means because we thoroughly discuss this in our Training Video and online documentation.

Basically, when someone rates a 9 or 10 on their survey, it means they LOVE your business and will gladly share your brand with others – whether that’s through word-of-mouth, online reviews, or testimonials. These are the clients you want to ask to leave a review about your business.

If anyone rates between a 1-6, this client did not have a pleasant experience with your business and may go as far to prevent possible future clients from working with you – whether it’s leaving poor reviews or actually telling people not to work with you.

It’s clear why this information is so important to gather from your client base. This is the easiest way to discover how your clients really feel! Not all clients feel brave enough to leave a public review online, but many will gladly click a quick button in an email and add a brief note in a feedback field.

These ratings you collect from clients provide insightful information by itself, but there’s even more to it! All that data comes together to produce your business’ Net Promoter Score. It’s a fancy equation that we actually calculate for you within Stratus. Basically, your business will be placed on a scale between -100 and 100. What this means can be as simple as Positive = Good and Negative = Bad.

Here’s what you can do before 2020

As mentioned previously, we have many materials on our site that go deep into how you can set this up for your own business. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  1. Visit the HTML email builder to customize the email template we’ve already built for you.
  2. Set up a Trigger to automatically send the Net Promoter question to clients.
  3. Watch the data come in with our Dashboard reports and follow up using our special trigger features!

Yes, it’s that simple!

The easiest way to set up this feature is to watch our Net Promoter Score training video (found here). I go into depth on each of those steps. Simply follow along the video and you can have it set up in 20 minutes!

If you prefer written instructions, we have those available also (found here). The same concepts are covered and include screenshots of how everything should look.

This feature is incredibly crucial to your business’ success, and its simplicity shouldn’t be taken lightly! There’s a lot of powerful data packed behind this simple question!

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Net Promoter Score Training Video Released!

The next 2019 training video is now available! Check out the Net Promoter Score training video (AKA NPS) to gain a better understanding of what the feature is, learn how to set it up, and get some helpful tips on how to use NPS to project your business’ future growth.

Click here to view the video!

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Online Payments Training Video Released!

The first training video to go with our 2019 release is officially out! Check out the Online Payments training video for step by step instructions to set up this feature, along with special tips on how to maximize your usage.

Click here to view the video!

Additional links:

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GIF Tips to Improve Email Marketing

You’ve seen them all over the internet and may even wonder how they’re made – from cute image sequences to funny clips of cats doing stunts. Of course, I’m talking about the GIF! Since being introduced in 1986, GIFs (Graphic Interchange Format) have taken the internet by storm.

Rising in popularity in 2006/2008, the GIF is now a staple of common internet practice. So how can you take advantage of this trend to increase your own business success? Include the GIF in your email marketing! Make your message stand out against the other emails competing for your client’s inbox with an eye-catching image display.

One example is to create a brief sequence of your best images:

Or just go crazy with a fun/goofy GIF featuring some of your employees. Seize the opportunity to pique your client’s interest about the fun that goes on at your studio!


via GIPHY

Making GIFs is actually very easy. We utilize Camtasia for our video and GIF making purposes. Free services online, such as GIPHY, also allow you to make your own or to use pre-existing GIFs.

Flexibility & modernization is key in every industry. As trends change, it’s important to recognize when we need to change along with them.

And remember—have fun with it!

via GIPHY

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Spectra vs myStratus – How are they Different?

While the structure of Spectra and myStratus is very similar, some rather large differences exist that really set the two softwares apart from each other. Let’s dig into the biggest differences between the two:

Color – First, and most obvious, is the color scheme. Instead of the traditional orange color of Spectra, myStratus showcases a blue coloring. Blue like the sky! myStratus is a cloud-based product, so the blue color scheme is quite fitting.

Data-Hosting – As I just mentioned, probably the biggest difference between the softwares is that myStratus hosts your data in the cloud. This means you’re able to access your database anywhere you find an internet connection! Spectra, on the other hand, is a locally hosted solution- fully controlled by your network. The biggest benefit of this functionality is that it allows you to work offline if your internet connection isn’t quite as reliable.

Cloud Features – One of the best aspects of myStratus is that, because it’s hosted in the cloud, it allows us to create and release “online” features which simply can’t be used in Spectra’s local format. Our most current examples of these types of features are Online Booking, Web Forms (e.g. Contact Us Forms), Online Referral Programs, and mobile-friendly image galleries. Because your myStratus database is hosted in the cloud, we’re able to utilize an instant connection with the database when clients go through their online process.

Data Maintenance – Because Spectra is a local system, controlled within your own network, you are also in charge of its maintenance. This includes setting up automatic processes within the system to allow Spectra to take care of itself. In doing this, you hold much of the power with your Spectra database – your security is in your hands. On the contrary, because your myStratus database is in the cloud, we’re able to manage all the extra security for you. This includes constant back-ups, data encryption, Automatic Disaster Recovery, and a lot more!

Apps – With Spectra, you only have the one Desktop app installed on your PC and it operates within your network. For myStratus, there are actually three ways to access your database:

  • Desktop App – Just like the Spectra desktop app, this full-featured app can be installed directly on your PC. This app is also a mirror of the Spectra Desktop app, so all features can be found in the same locations.
  • Web App – By utilizing an Internet Browser, such as Chrome or FireFox, you can access your myStratus database anywhere with an internet connection. The web app has limited access to features as compared to the Desktop App, but it’s still a great resource when you need to get to your database!
  • Mobile App – Available on Apple and Android devices, you can also install the myStratus Mobile app. This app allows you to view and edit basic information from your database. While it does require an internet connection in order to sync with your live database, the app can also work offline. You’ll be able to edit any information as it appears from your last sync, and when you eventually get back on the internet, the app will sync any changes you’ve made.

Pricing – Now let’s talk about a very important difference between Spectra and myStratus. In order to use Spectra, you must purchase the software. Starting with a 12-month payment plan, after purchasing the software, you can roll into an optional Monthly Maintenance plan that provides you continued Tech Support and any software updates we release. Regardless if you decide to continue with a maintenance plan, by purchasing the software, you fully own your license. For myStratus, the software is available as a subscription. You pay for the software as you need it. As well as the features/abilities listed in this blog post, the myStratus subscription also comes with Tech Support, Training, and any updates we release with the software.

Both softwares definitely feature their own strengths, and it all comes down to what will work best for YOUR business. We’re here to help you make the right decision in choosing which software will help your business be its most successful. If you’re still not sure which way to turn, click here to schedule a free one-on-one demo with one of our Product Specialists to see the software in action!

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Spectra vs myStratus – How are they Similar?

Looking at Spectra and myStratus side-by-side, they really aren’t that different – basically mirror images of each other. When we first released myStratus back in 2014, our engineers took the base code from our existing Spectra product and brought it into myStratus, and we’ve continued to expand on it ever since! Spectra’s features are all found in the same places in both softwares – with the exception of several product-specific features.


For those considering whether to make the jump to myStratus, we offer a complete conversion of your Spectra Database, so all your settings and information will move over to the new system. Meaning you can pick up right where you left off with almost no learning curve.

The structure behind both these software products is very similar, but the core behind them is very different. Next, we’ll review those key differences between Spectra and myStratus.

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Keeping Track: Time Stamps, Status Notes, and Audit Logs

Overseeing a group of employees can be time consuming. People make mistakes – it’s a part of being human. When something happens and you’re not sure exactly why it happened, it’s important to have tracking tools in place to determine How and Why something changed. Here are a few features to simplify your oversight tasks.

Time Stamps – Any time you’re working from the Notes tab of a record, just click the keyboard keys CTRL + T to leave a timestamp containing the date/time, as well as user initials of who entered the note.

Did you know we utilize myStratus here at StudioPlus to help operate our business? Whenever an employee needs to make a significant change to a record, we require them to leave a note with their timestamp detailing this change. Here’s what an entry might look like:

10/18/2018 11:00:04 AM MKH – Old Email Address: XXXX, updated to: XXXX. Client requested change 10/7/2018

So, if something’s ever entered incorrectly or we need to see why a change was made, we can check the Notes tab of a record to see the facts behind the change.

Status Notes – Another tracking option found on the Notes tab of a record are the Status Notes. These notes are automatically generated by Spectra/myStratus any time a specific action occurs on the corresponding record. Some instances this feature tracks: After a Status has been modified on any record, when a Session record’s date/time is modified as well as if it’s been marked Cancelled, Rescheduled, or On Hold, and if this record had an automatic communication (e.g. a Trigger or through the Communication Wizard). These Status Notes also include a timestamp as mentioned previously.

If you see a note entered with the letters SPSA, that indicates the modification done was system generated. This case might occur if a trigger was automatically sent out for a client record – this system generated action will automatically add to the Status Notes section with the SPSA pre-fix.

Remember, Status Notes are a read-only feature. No user can modify them.

Audit Logs – Notes are great and all, but what if a user forgets to add their note, or what if they delete a record altogether? This next feature is essential to tracking what goes on in your database. Audit Logs, when enabled, will track a variety of actions, such as when a record is created, modified, or deleted. While it does not state what changes were made to a record, it will explain who did the action, when, and which record was edited.

You can activate Audit Logging at Maintenance > Preferences > Audit Logging.

The following records can be activated for tracking:

  • Appointments
  • Clients
  • Invoices
  • Payments
  • Sessions
  • User Authentication (Security Overrides)
  • Invoice Discounts Applied

To view your logs, go to Utilities > Audit Trail Logs. See also: Audit Trail Logs

Don’t wait until something unexpected happens before implementing policies to hold your employees and yourself accountable. Set up these systems ahead of time – when something happens, as it inevitably will, you’ll be prepared.

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Set up your Yearbook Workflow! Day 5

Today’s is the last day for our training series on yearbook workflow – you’ll be happy to know it’s a simple one. If you followed closely during the past 4 posts, your yearbook workflow is going to be a breeze! While the set up takes some time, once you get going, you’ll notice how every detail plays an important role in making sure your workflow runs smoothly.

Just one topic’s left and that’s reporting on your students. Now this doesn’t involve a bunch of paperwork or a big presentation you need to sweat over. This reporting is handled by us and is meant to show you patterns in your workflow with schools.

Five reports are associated with Organizations – view them at Reports > Organization Reports as follows:

  1. Organization List – Shows a list of all Organizations as well as their Deadlines, Notes, and Contact Info.
  2. Organization Session List – Choose between one or all Organizations to view what sessions are scheduled for either a certain date range or a specific graduation year. This report also shows whether a student has selected their yearbook image.
  3. Organization Session List – Not Photographed – Choose between one or all Organizations to view what students have not yet completed their photo session. This includes: missed sessions, upcoming sessions, and unscheduled sessions.
  4. Organization Session Summary – Choose between one or all Organizations to view the statistics for the number of students vs. photographed and unphotographed students.
  5. Organization Yearbook Approval – Choose between one or all Organizations to view a student’s status with their yearbook image.
    • If the image has been prepared, the student’s image will appear.
    • If a student has selected an image, but it has not been prepared, the report will say Image Not Ready.
    • If the student does not have any images in their session folders yet, it will say Waiting on Images.
    • If the student is not even scheduled for their session, it will say Not Scheduled.
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Set up your Yearbook Workflow! Day 4

Once your clients have selected their yearbook image, whether in the studio or online, now’s the time to get the image Prepared. The process of preparing a yearbook image in the yearbook workflow is meant to accomplish two things:

  1. The Hi-Res image for that session will be cropped and adjusted to the organization’s yearbook standards.
  2. The finished image will get moved to a separate folder on that computer containing only that organization’s yearbook images.

To Prepare a yearbook image, the following criteria must be met:

  • The session must have images in its Hi-Res folder. This should have been done when the images were imported.
  • A Composite Template must be selected for that organization in either the Organization settings > Yearbook Option tab or the Company Preferences > Organization tab. (This was covered in a previous blog post)
  • The student’s Organization must have both DPI and Image Height (Pixels) for yearbook images set in its Organization settings > Yearbook Options tab.

To Prepare a yearbook image, open the student’s session record and go to the Organization tab. Next to where they have chosen their yearbook image, select Prepare. An example of the prepared image will appear and you can adjust it if necessary– click OK to finish.

The prepared image will get placed in the folder location chosen on the Organization tab in the Company Preferences.

This means at the end of your yearbook season, when you must deliver the yearbook images to your schools, you will have an easy-to-access folder that includes all the student’s images, already edited.

*Tip* Want to save yourself even more time? Check out our integration with AthenTech’s Perfectly Clear! You can even import all your images with a preset of your own design! Check out the amazing difference between the original and finished image that was used in this demonstration:


Click here to read more about Perfectly Clear!

Now your images are prepared, and the yearbook workflow is done! All that’s left is to keep on top of your organization reporting!

Extra Resources

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Set up your Yearbook Workflow! Day 3

Aside from just going to the Organization tab on a student’s session record and selecting their yearbook image at that location, students can also select their own yearbook image online from InspiredByYou.com.

As a quick recap, InspiredByYou.com is an eCommerce site allowing your clients to view and purchase their images online. InspiredByYou is available as an optional add-on for Spectra users and is included in the subscription cost for myStratus users.

If you’ve not set up InspiredByYou.com and would like to do so, click here to get started.

After you have InspiredByYou.com set up, note these three settings that are very important to allow your clients to select their Yearbook Image online:

• Enable Online Yearbook Selection in the InspiredByYou.com Preferences (Maintenance > Preferences > InspiredByYou.com Preferences). This setting enables the online yearbook selection feature.

• Set the Student Selection Cut Off Date on the Yearbook Options tab in the Organization settings (Maintenance > Client > Organizations > Yearbook Options tab). This setting controls how long students can choose yearbook images online.

• Also set the student’s Session Type as an Organization / School session style in the Session Type Maintenance Detail screen (Maintenance > Session > Session Types > ‘Open the Session Type’ > General tab). This setting controls which sessions will have access to the online yearbook selection feature.

After the session is uploaded to InspiredByYou, if it’s been set up correctly, the student will have an extra icon in their lower menu that allows them to select their yearbook image.

After the student has selected their image online, you can download their selection by going to Tools > Synchronize InspiredByYou.com > ‘check’ Download Yearbook Image Selections > Start Sync. This will download all yearbook selections made by your clients on InspiredByYou. Their selection will appear in the Yearbook Image section on the Organization tab of their session record. For myStratus users, this sync process automatically runs approximately every half hour.

*If you chose to create a Task any time a yearbook image is chosen, then the task will get created and assigned at this stage as well.

Now that you’ve selected the yearbook images for your clients, you can prepare the images! Check back later for more info!

Extra Resources

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